A Big Cat Deterrent System
Human-Wildlife Conflict Management
One of the greatest threats to predators in the wild is human-wildlife conflict. For example, over 90 percent of cheetahs live outside protected management areas, alongside human communities raising cows, sheep, and goats. The loss of even a single animal can be devastating to poor farmers and predators are seen not as a valuable component of a thriving ecosystem, but as a threat to their livelihoods.
Light For Life was founded by Kenyan, David Mascall; his low-impact, home-grown and inexpensive solution saves lions, leopards and livestock. Rather than paying ranchers after their cattle has been killed by lions, hyenas and leopards, David employs an easy to assemble, inexpensive flashing LED light system around cattle pens (bomas) in Kenya to stop predators from killing goats and cows.
By preventing lions and leopards from killing cattle, they also prevent humans from killing the offending predators. Each kit costs $350 to purchase and install. This project helps Light For Life scale up the use of predator lights in combination with fences and other deterrents. Find them at their facebook page.
When we installed our lighting system, the feedback we got was remarkable. Not a single boma has been attacked by predators after the Lion Lights have been installed! Everybody we talked to was perfectly happy with this system that cost 350 $ per boma. East of the Ngorbop/Milima Tatu area one day we talked to a Maasai Herder while searching for a group of 5 Male Lions. He told us that the night before these 5 Male Lions had tried to break into a boma, but dogs alarmed the Maasai who then were able to chase them off in time. These 5 males have chosen a boma not being equipped with Lion Lights and it was sort of luck these 5 Male Lions (we know them well) were not too hungry, otherwise this incident may have played out differently! I have to say congratulations to Diana Bell Miller and David Mascall and all the people supporting them! These two dedicated people are probably the most efficient "NGO" in Kenya or even in Africa. No overhead costs, but fast and hands on support for those Maasai People suffering losses from Livestock Predation. They make a real difference! Up to date they have equipped 125 bomas adjacent to Nairobi National Park and the Maasai Mara. 125 Maasai Families can now sleep at night!" David Mascall, Light For Life
For decades, Tony Fitzjohn, OBE (George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust) and Dr. Laurie Mark (Cheetah Conservation Fund) have abated human-wildlife conflict to protect African wild dogs and big cats.
Projects currently supported by the trusts
In 1995, the trusts launched East Africa's first captive breeding and translocation programme for the critically endangered African Wild Dog. This project started with the arrival of 25 pups from three different families on the Maasai Steppe, an area where the local Maasai pastoralists poison the dogs in retaliation for killing livestock.
The Mkomazi National Park is a magnificent, 3,500 square kilometre game reserve in northern Tanzania. Remote and inaccessible, it was established in 1951, but never attracted the financial support provided for the better known wildlife strongholds such as the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti National Parks. Only since 1989, when the Tanzanian Government reexamined the reserve's status and designated it a National Priority Project, has its true significance and importance been recognized.
For 25 years Tony Fitzjohn, George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust (GAWPT) has supported projects in East Africa to raise awareness of the problems facing endangered species, in particular the black rhino and the wild dog. In addition, the charity's outreach programs help to protect the needs and expectations of local communities.
In 1969, John Rendall (now a trustee of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust) and Ace Bourke bought a lion cub from Harrods in London. He was called Christian and was looked after by John and Ace in England for about a year. He was a magnificent animal, full of character and friendship, and an amazing bond formed between the two men and the lion. In 1970, John and Ace decided to take Christian to George Adamson in the Kora National Reserve in Kenya, where George and his assistant, Tony Fitzjohn, would rehabilitate him to the wild. His rehabilitation was a great success.
Tony Fitzjohn lived and worked with George Adamson in Kora for nearly 19 years and Christian was the first lion that Tony handled, having joined George in 1970. Christian’s great personality endeared him to most humans who came into contact with him, and his life with John and Ace and subsequently George and Tony was characterized by affection and friendship.
In 1995, the Trusts launched East Africa's first captive breeding and translocation program for the critically endangered African Hunting Dog (the wolf of Africa). Tony’s project started because the local Masai pastoralists poisoned the dogs in retaliation for killing livestock. Sadly, the changes in attitude have come too late to save many packs. Despite the protection of the parks and reserves, they have continued to decline throughout their range. Disease and poisoning are some of the prime causes of their downfall. Canine distemper and rabies, picked up from domestic dogs, can wipe out an entire pack: once one animal is infected, the sociability of the Wild Dog ensures that it spreads rapidly throughout the pack. Today, in the whole of Africa, fewer than 3,000 of these remarkable animals survive. Unless Africa's Hunting Dogs are given the help needed for their recovery, the future of these fascinating animals is uncertain. We must act now to ensure their survival.
Founded by Dr. Laurie Marker, The Cheetah Conservation Fund created a renowned Livestock Guarding Dog Program has been highly effective at reducing predation rates and thereby reducing the inclination by farmers to trap or shoot cheetahs. CCF breeds Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs, breeds that for millennia have guarded small livestock against wolves and bears in Turkey. The dogs are placed with Namibian farmers as puppies. They bond with the herd and use their imposing presence and loud bark to scare away potential predators.
CCF has been placing dogs since 1994 and our research shows the dogs are highly effective, reducing livestock loss from all predators by over 80 and up to 100 percent. Farmers adopt CCF dogs and participate in education on how to train the dog. CCF does on site follow up visits to ensure the dogs have proper training and medical care, and are settling into their guardian role. Farmers have enthusiastically embraced the program, and there is now a two year waiting list for puppies. CCF had placed nearly 500 dogs by the end of 2013. CCF research shows that the people’s attitudes towards predators are changing as a result of this and other CCF programs.
To the communal farmers, many of whom are poor, the loss of even a single animal can be devastating. Cheetahs and other predators are looked upon by farmers not as a valuable component of a thriving ecosystem, but as a threat to their livelihoods. During the 1980’s, livestock and game farmers halved the Namibian cheetah population, indiscriminately removing nearly 10,000 cheetahs. It was in 1990 that CCF developed its Human Wildlife mitigation programs, called Future Farmers of Africa.
To prevent further cheetah population decline, CCF works with farmers to investigate, develop and implement predator-friendly livestock and wildlife management techniques that are also exhibited at CCF’s model farm.